A GROUP of young Wiganers who have become trained experts in dealing with the sensitive issue of child sexual exploitation is warning parents and carers to remain vigilant during the festive period.
The young women from Lowton Girls Group, who have spent two years training in partnership Wigan Council Youth Workers and the national Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, held an event for professionals from across the borough at Lowton Youth Centre.
The group presented the work they have done on the issue, which includes making an educational DVD to be used in schools and youth groups across Wigan.
The Lowton group received their specialist knowledge to help combat exploitation after a need was recognised for ambassadors from the same generation as those affected by the issue.
Group member Lisa Brew, 19, said: “Lowton Girls Group and our youth workers have done a lot of work and training to educate others on child sexual exploitation.
“But with Christmas approaching it is more important than ever to be aware of the warning signs that a young person you know may be at risk.
“Has your son or daughter received unexplained presents this year? Is your friend spending the holiday away from family and friends?
“Are they more secretive than usual about who they are spending all their time with? Being vigilant on warning signs such as this could help identify if a young person you know may be in trouble.”
The girls’ work is also backed by Greater Manchester Police, Barnardo’s and Wigan Borough’s Safeguarding Board.
Deb Hall, Wigan Council voice and engagement team youth worker, said: “The group has put hours and hours of their own time into raising awareness of child sexual exploitation in Wigan borough.
“We are also here to deliver the message again that sexual exploitation is real, it is happening and not just in someone else’s back yard.
“The more people are aware of it and the more we keep talking about it then the more we are able to tackle it.”
To find out more about the group or get a copy of the DVD contact Wigan Council’s voice and engagement team on 01942 486237.